Sandusky case rests, so too can Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly

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June 26, 2012

By Maresa Strano


HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania: Linda Kelly (R) was appointed Attorney General over a year ago by current Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett (R) to serve out the remainder of his term, Corbett having vacated his attorney general seat upon election to the governorship. When Kelly was sworn into office on May 24, 2011, she assumed leadership of the state's high profile investigation into former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky's reported sexual assault of-at least-eight young boys between 1994 and 2009.

Originating during Corbett's rein as attorney general in late 2009, the case's disturbing revelations about Sandusky reverberated far beyond the boundaries of Penn State's campus, inciting an onslaught of emotional pleas to the state to deliver swift justice, so to begin the healing process. Despite the mounting pressure from the public and press to advance the investigation to trial as quickly as possible, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, which oversaw the case, proceeded with caution instead of urgency. The case spent two years in controversial gestation under Corbett - and then Kelly - before charges were brought against Sandusky in Novemeber, 2011.[1] After a fraught stage of suspended grief, Sandusky's victims and betrayed fans got the pace they wanted, with the case going from grand jury presentment to trial in a short seven months.[2]

On June 22, 2012, a jury convicted Sandusky of 45 out of the 48 counts of sex abuse for which he was indicted, including 25 felonies and 20 misdemeanors. Despite the challenges of inheriting responsibility for such a sensitive case - in addition to timing pressures, the defense sought a mistrial following the prosecution's exposure of an erroneously incriminating interview Sandusky did with Bob Costas - after the verdict was delivered, Kelly assured the press that she was confident Sandusky received a fair trial. "The commonwealth expects to prevail on any appeal, and as far as the timing, the judge made it clear from the beginning to all the parties that he intended to move this case along quickly," Kelly said on CNN.[3] Defense Attorney Joe Amendola tried to withdraw from the case on account of the trial's unusually expeditious time-frame. He is expected to appeal the charges, which currently translate to a sentence of over 400 years in prison for Sandusky.

Echoing Kelly's defense of the trial's sprint to conclusion, and the requested mistrial's dismissal, Corbett said that he expects these points to present themselves in future appeals, but ultimately, the jury's decision was tipped by the "compelling testimony of these now young men who were young boys who suffered at the hands of this pedophile.”[4] In addition to pending appeals, another investigation arising from accusations made after Sandusky's arrest is still crystallizing within the attorney general's office.[5] Given the upcoming Pennsylvania attorney general election, 2012 election of a new attorney general in Pennsylvania, Kelly, who is not running for a full term in 2012 per the terms of her appointment, will likely not be handling it. With the general election taking place on November 6, it will soon be her turn to pass the torch onto the next attorney general, and with it, Sandusky duty.

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